tv [untitled] December 23, 2011 2:01am-2:31am PST
wiener and malia cohen, and we also have with us today supervisor chiu. hopefully we can finish this first item within the hour. if not, we will have the -- before we start on the first item, supervisor wiener had some comments. supervisor wiener: as the chairman indicated, we will be starting at 2:00. if you are here for that, you
could come back. supervisor mar: so ms. miller, item number one, and president chiu is the chair. supervisor chiu: thank you. as i think many of you know, are waterfront holds a special place in the city. from the 1960's to the embarcadero freeway, we have had many battles. early next year, we will vote on another controversial project. this entails 145 luxury condominiums, which can only be built if the board decides to increase the 84-foot height to limit on that side to 136 feet. this would be the first high increase on the northern waterfront in almost 50 years.
as you can imagine, this proposal has generated significant debate, as well as along the city. as i heard more about this, i had growing concerns about it. there is a question as to whether it is appropriate to reach the consensus about heights on the northern waterfront. there are other questions regarding the policy change. for example, what kind of housing is appropriate. particularly as working families continued to lead our city. or, what kinds of benefits are appropriate. the community needs benefits, but what sorts of benefits, and what level of benefits are appropriate, particularly given the needs around open space? when i first came into office three years ago, because there were so many constituents i had that were opposed to this project, i asked them to do a comprehensive study, and i had
hoped that study would lead to a consensus on how development in the area would be better integrated into the surrounding neighborhoods. unfortunately, they provided a design plan, but it was not the comprehensive plan many of us were hoping for. increasingly heights just for the washington site. a coalition of neighborhood groups and professional planners put together a more comprehensive plan for the north east waterfront and for potential uses of the board seawall along the stretch. you knew more about this today. if you have any opening comments to if you would like to make? ok, we will open up the hearing to testify.
we have former city officials who are here today and others to make presentations providing different elements of this process, so with that, if i can ask jonathan stern for a presentation? and i know that a full presentation has been provided to all of our colleagues. >> thank you, president chiu, chair mar, supervisors. as you know, this is a public- private partnership. on the slides that i have just brought up, it shows besides. the site is a combination of the public land and the private land, where the port of and about two-thirds of an acre that is currently parking lots and has public use restrictions on it. it used to be on the embarcadero freeway. the swim club, which i believe has now been renamed a resort,
they used to nestle right near the embarcadero freeway. this area has changed since the things were put in place. right now, the port has gone through a lengthy process after the freeway went down from 1992 to 1997 to put together the white waterfront land use planning. there is the ferry building, and they renovated several piers, and this is a different area than when there was the loma prieta. something that was not a permanent condition. it's sort of became subject of what should happen next. this is specifically contemplates that these two sides should be planned in a joint manner, and we took that to heart. we issued an rfp that asked
about developing the seawall or combining the two properties, and this developer answered this and was deemed to be a responsive, qualified developer, and we have been planning with him ever since. the embarcadero steady became part of this. i originally, the developer planned on this. public property, private property is not my standard. these are the two sides that i talked about. part of this is implicit in this
process, a land swap. with public use restrictions, it cannot really be redeveloped other than for a maritime office or other conforming public trust uses or parking. that did not seem to be the highest and best use for the waterfront. they have essentially a realignment, primarily to be park land, and they would still participate by selling the property. i will go through those uses. this largely conformed to any study with a lower building, going about 50 to 75 feet on the front and of to 136 feet in the back. it has 145 units on the ground
floor of housing, and it would be high-end housing. public parking and residential parking, instead of being on the surface as it is now, would be moved underneath. there are public spaces which would allow them to remove public parking that is over the water now in the ferry building area and put them below grade. the developers also ask for residential use. if you put three levels of parking there, that is a tight fit create a lot of that would be valet parking. a lot of that would be parking spaces, etc., so that is a very brief presentation of the project. i just wanted to put this slide up if we can for a minute. it just shows the realignment. i want to talk about the public benefit. so the public benefits, and a number of forms.
the first was as president chiu rightfully said. there are benefits we are seeking at the port because we are looking for additional revenue, and that has been our plan. to be specific on the revenue side, we are talking about $5 million of payments when it is completed. we are talking about in perpetuity a transfer tax that would allow them to collect a one half of 1% fee in perpetuity. we are looking at that as a $5 million net present value right now. i think that is a pretty conservative estimate. i think it will be in the $500,000 to $1 million coming up. and then there isn't area that is interlocal. -- there is an area that is in trouble. -- integral.
we are developing a plan of finance proposed developing some of this money, the northern waterfront park, the crews terminal, and the america's cup benefit, which we are currently embarking on doing. i just want to not take much more of your time, but i wanted to sit a couple of other things about public benefits. we are creating three park spaces. this is that jackson street and another area, expanding that in making it a better part of the urban fabric. all of the sparks up to a parked -- all of this backs up to a park that is not far away.
we went to the commission and started exploring the lot at broadway and french. -- broadway and front. this is an independent issue, but this is one of the questions about what kind of housing. this is something we are exploring and are trying to be proactive. and that concludes my presentation. president chiu: thank you, colleagues. supervisor wiener: i have a question. president chiu: someone is your from planning, too. supervisor wiener: -- someone is here from planning, too. supervisor wiener: i am just
interested in knowing how people think about that. >> we looked at that extensively. there is some -- the zoning, as i mentioned when we started this planning process, we did have one that had it two 84-foot buildings. this is where the differentiation of height occurred. this was deemed, given a close washington street is to the downtown and especially the embarcadero 5, 4. they are about 75 feet on the embarcadero and about 1368 on drum.
as we taper into the neighborhood, those hides go down. calling all of the way to the club building, they go down to about i believe 84 feet on the back and, essentially at jackson. -- on the back end. president chiu: i know we have a number of community presentations. mr. chair, if we could set the clock at three minutes, i would like ms. hester to talk about this afternoon. >> good afternoon, supervisors. i am an attorney. what you have here is the redevelopment map for the lower embarcadero, the lower market street redevelopment area. will we now think of, and this is golden gateway. and this is the freeway.
when the city started this area in 1959, they delineated this area here as residential, north of washington street, and the freeway ramps were a really big factor when this was developed. the city tore down the area along the embarcadero, and they tore down the ramps, but the freeway system is a system that basically used washington and clay and broadway and samson and battery to move traffic on to the embarcadero freeway, and they just wore them down. they did not go back and look at what changes needed to be made. this included start walls all along washington street. there was a director who was very familiar with the original heights. he is going to talk about that.
when this area was developed, these buildings along here were developed -- what everyone recognizes. what happened in 1976 is that the city wed preprocessor along with the return of an agency and planning department to say how do we develop the area north of jackson street. this is now but you know as the gateway commons. when that happens, the city, the return of an agency, the planning commission, and the board of supervisors change the height limits from all of these blocks. the planning department changed it. this shows that there are two laundered 75 feet high. the city abandoned it in 1974.
a former director will be talking about that. there are two other people that i want to introduce. the city attorney will talk about housing, and bill will talk about shadows. thank you. president chiu: we have a number of formidable representatives to make presentations, and we have someone who used to be with the planning department. >> supervisors, thank you for the opportunity to speak on a very important issue. president chiu: if you could pull the microphone under. >> does that do it? great. the third time i have appeared in relation to a proposed project since leaving as director of city planning, and even then, one of those times, i was an advocate for the octavia
boulevard project. mcdonald and i designed it. that could be discounted because we were interested parties. i will only talk about three issues briefly. height. as has been mentioned, for over 40 years, you say 50, but 40 years plus, since the san francisco urban design plan, it has been city policy to decrease hiked toward the waterfront. so that people in san francisco could see and enjoy the meeting of land and water and to be able to see the city and the hills. if you are going to change that, then at least do it as part of a new comprehensive citywide urban design plan. do not do it as one of these ad hoc things, which is what this
is, regardless of what they say. all along the way, by the way, note the levi strauss development not so far from this development. i originally, there was supposed to be high-end of buildings there, and they have taken away some views of the waterfront and taken away the views of the tower. we have put some very strict conditions on these. these views are all of -- all there. all of the rest. levi strauss, we can build with in that.
i do not think anybody is sorry about that. add hot -- ad hocism has had an effect over the last 15 years. the bridge, i would hope everybody would agree, is a san francisco icon. that huge building on win con hill, -- on rincon hill makes it impossible to see the bridge when approaching unless you want to get in an accident. or, coming off of it, it is almost impossible to see the city from it. so much for an icon. the tower, i think people would agree, is an icon. why would you take away something went and ability to do away with this of the tower? why would we do that?
it took an earthquake to make it possible to return the views to the ferry building. there were in the studies. we did them before. are some of the views sacred or not? do we care or not? what about shadows and open space? ms. somera will speak to that, but studies have shown time and time again that some in san francisco, especially open spaces and sidewalks are really important and objectively immeasurable on human comfort. it is really important in the city more so than other places. why allow development that would cast shadows on the park across the street? president chiu: if we could
just wrap it up? >> i will. i want to and on an absolute truth. i want to show you one of the absolute truths. it will be economic to build with in that law. if they can be broken or changed, then all of a sudden, it will not be economic. it is called grade. -- greed. president chiu: our next speaker, ed. >> thank you.
i think it is important that this golden gate swim club was seen as necessary 50 years ago because there was a great deal of high-density housing being built on the site. that need has not changed. the commitment to that open space, it and i do not want to use the word open space without saying active recreational space, has been challenged. this is the fourth time. three previous times, prospective developments have come forward and wanted to remove the recreation area. in june of that time, the mayors
and the board of the redevelopment agency and the executive directors, like me, opposed it, because that commitment was made, and it seemed that it was working. and it has worked incredibly. since 1968, this facility has served the golden gate residence, has provided recreational opportunity to downtown workers, and most important, for families with children. thousands of children have learned to swim there, and thousands have attended the summer camp, so it is a priceless facility that very few cities have downtown, and the charges are affordable to lower middle-class families.
it is not the olympic club or the california tennis club. this is within reach of the middle-class family. we have heard a lot of talk about the importance of keeping families with children in san francisco, and this is the kind of facility that helps do that. and i do not think the city really benefits. we make short-term economic benefit from this project if it goes ahead, but i think the destruction of this successful in the central recreational facility is really not worth that kind of exchange. thank you. president chiu: thank you. our next presentation will be
from our former city attorney. >> good afternoon, supervisors. i am malize. i am here today to speak against the 8 washington street project for a number of reasons. first of all, and i think, president to -- president chiu, your remarks in your opening remarks about this would be a change on the waterfront, and for years, those who live in san francisco have found it to be gospel, if you will, that the waterfront be open and accessible. this project does not do it. moreover, there are others waiting in the wings to follow suit. i can point out that i think it is against the public trust doctrine, and you will hear other issues, as well, on the
shading of parks, but the point i would like to make is that there is such hypocrisy in this project. because it is being presented as a change for the better. something to clean up the area. and yet, the fencing and the area that is a part of this project has been kept purposely, purposely, in a decrepit, ugly fashion, and now you have the same odor coming to say, "hey, if you give me this great height limit, it is going to change the height on the waterfront. i will clean up the front." to me, there ought to be a code enforcement action. so it is height and bulk. it is change that we will see, and i do not know about you, but
i do not want to live in the miami beach area, but it is also a certain amount of hypocrisy. there is a tenant in a law that when you're asking for a favor, you come with clean hands. there is nothing clean about the way in which that property has been kept, so i do not think it is a very good idea to reward that kind of behavior with the change that is being proposed. supervisor wiener: may i? what are the projects that you think are waiting in the wings? >> i agree that there are those on howard street, etc., that are waiting to see if the height limits are changed. then they will be coming forward. now, that statement has been
approved by someone. it is either spot zoning, or it is for everyone. it is private property. you are not increasing the height of port property. it is all private property. and if you change it for one, you have got a number of other projects that i understand are, indeed, waiting in the wings to see what is going to happen, and as i say, to, frankly, where i am coming from is the height and bulk that would change how people view and use the a embarcadero. we as neighbors are not a good to any and all projects. i want to make that clear. in fact, there is room for improvement, as i expressed, but it just seems a bit of hypocrisy to say i am going to change it but only if you give me a change in the height limit. president chiu: our next speaker
is the author of an ordinance. bill. >> good afternoon, supervisors. i am bill. i will try to be brief. prop k was passed with 61% of the votes. the developers spent years of their life and millions of their dollars to work with the city, to develop the plan, and to build the building. they are going to win over a generalized belief that we should have some light in our parks. they win every time, and they won every time when i was on the board of supervisors, and that is why prop k was put in. you might as well sell it, because people do not use it. the reason prop j came in is that we were going to